Kent-born abolitionist H.H. Garnet is focus of lecture at Sumner Hall

CHESTERTOWN — Washington College’s Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience is hosting a lecture on abolitionist and Kent County native Henry Highland Garnet.

The event is 6 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 3 at Sumner Hall, 206 S. Queen St.

Sumner Hall, established in 1908, is the last in-use Grand Army of the Republic (Charles Sumner Post #25) African American veterans meeting hall in the United States.

The guest speaker on Oct. 3 is Anna Mae Duane, professor of English and director of the Humanities Institute at the University of Connecticut.

Duane is the author of “Educated for Freedom: The Incredible Story of Two Fugitive Schoolboys Who Grew Up to Change a Nation.” The book is about James McCune Smith, the first African American to earn a medical degree, and his childhood friend Henry Highland Garnet.

Garnet was born into slavery in Kent County, escaping to New York with his family in 1824.

He would go on to become a clergyman and a firebrand orator in the abolitionist movement.

He was the first African American to deliver a speech in the U.S. House of Representatives and later became the U.S. ambassador to Liberia.

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